Home Education Gov. McDonnell Should Veto P.E. Bill

Gov. McDonnell Should Veto P.E. Bill


I’m with education and local government groups on this one:

Three statewide education groups are joining with the Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Municipal League to urge Gov. Bob Mc­Don­nell (R) to veto a bill that requires elementary and middle schools to offer 150 minutes of physical education a week.

Fairfax County officials had been pushing Mc­Don­nell to veto the bill, arguing that it is an unfunded mandate that would cost local governments millions as they hire new teachers, and that it would take time away from academics.

Now, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, the Virginia Education Association and the Virginia School Boards Association have joined with the local government groups to make the same arguments.

I’m with the educators and local officials on this one. Look, I’d support this legislation if the General Assembly also had voted to lengthen the school day/year in order to compensate for the extra time students will spend on physical education, AND also if they had appropriated funds to pay for doing so.

Instead, what the Virginia General Assembly has done with this legislation is to impose an unfunded mandate on schools and localities, forcing them to hire more teachers and/or expand facilities, without providing them the resources to do so. That, in turn, means that schools will be forced to cut back elsewhere — music, art, instruction time, whatever — in order to make room in their schedules and budgets for the unfunded mandate. That’s not acceptable, and it’s not right.

No question, childhood obesity is a major problem in this country, but the root causes of it go way, WAYYYYY beyond our schools. Given that child obesity has many root causes, most of which have nothing to do with our schools, dumping this all on the schools is certainly not the way to go. I mean, if the Virginia General Assembly were so concerned with childhood obesity, why didn’t they pass a hefty tax on sugared sodas and junk food? Why didn’t they vote to restrict marketing of junk food (e.g., “Happy Meals”) to kids? Why didn’t they take action to eliminate high-fat, high-sugar garbage from the schools? How about legislation to promote biking and walking and transit, while discouraging sprawl and car use — a major contributor to the obesity epidemic?

Instead of voting for any of these potentially productive anti-obesity measures, the General Assembly instead opted to impose an unfunded mandate on our already-stressed school systems. That’s not right and it could end up being counterproductive in other ways. Gov. McDonnell should veto this legislation.

  • Mike1987

    We lack the courage to really prioritize school funding. We want it all and don’t want to pay for it because we want to lower our taxes so we can keep our freedoms and junk.  

    A – Priority and Funding Priority:


    2 – Building maintenance, teacher’s salary and their continued education

    2.1 School lunch – (no, and I mean no starving kids in our schools – We are Americans and we don’t tolerate that, regardless of what Baggers say).

    Then, if the above is fully funded and filled with quality teachers, then:

    B -Physical Education, Cooking, life sciences, football, music/band, administrator salaries, yada yada yada

    When money is short you cut out B. When you start to effect A, you effect the very reason for the school in the first place. We seem to fight for everything equally hard as it they are in fact equal. They are not. Like your home budget, when funds are low, you cut things out and start hitting the dollar store.

    It appears the Governor has a courage related problem.  Identify what is important, then fund it and when the money chest is empty, that’s it.  Hopefully, you have at least funded the basics and the very reason to have a school. Want more, transfer money or go back and ask the voters to pay more.

    Knowing this Governor, the fight will be over A1 above (See Texas).

  • pontoon

    and we participated in the USDA food program and also, of course, were inspected by the local Health Department.  They do not want schools, daycares, to use fresh meat…they want it frozen.  Actually, they want everything frozen or canned.  Canned fruit…with all its extra sugars.  Canned veggies with all the extra salt.  The frozen meats are all breaded…and are stamped USDA approved.  And if not breaded, you have to give a slice of bread with the meal.

    When we started using fresh meats, our local Health Dept went bonkers.  To make them feel better, we would go buy the meat daily.  They much preferred you buy frozen hamburger patties, or frozen prepared taco beef with all its additives, than to use freshly cooked beef.  Plus, they were extremely concerned about cross contamination of food.  The kitchen staff might lay the package of uncooked beef on the counter, then cut up lettuce on the same counter without disinfecting first.  

    Today, in public school, something as simple as a PB&J is purchased in nice little individual packages with the crust cut off the bread.  I truly believe these practices occur because of regulation.  Perhaps the lunch programs have gone too far in purchases of pre-made, prepackaged foods, but they sure are not healthy for our children.

  • cvllelaw

    In late 2009, I argued to the Virginia Supreme Court that the statute that gave local courts the power to enter an order directing that a convicted sex offender be allowed on school property to assist in parenting his child was constitutional.  (The local School Board had argued that the law was unconstitutional, so they didn’t need to let my guy come to parent-teacher meetings.)

    The Virginia Constitution has a provision that gives to the local School Boards the sole authority over their schools meant that the General Assembly could not pass a law that interfered with the power of the local School Boards to control who comes and goes on their property.  The School Board argued that that provision meant that this law, giving local courts the power to decide who comes on school property, was unconstitutional, at least when construed as broadly as the local court construed it.  I, of course, wanted them to uphold the law and the power of the local court to enter such an order.

    I began my argument by saying, “May it please the Court.  I rise today not only in support of my client, John Doe, but also in support of the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, military recruiters and the American flag — all of whom are the beneficiaries of General Assembly enactments giving them the right to be on school property.”  

    The Court held that the statute should not be construed so broadly as to mean what it actually says, because to do so would mean that the local School Boards do NOT have the right to control who comes on their property.  The Court ducked the question of whether their ruling was bad news for the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, military recruiters and the flag, noting that those issues were not before them.  However, the Court’s reasoning seemed to say, “The Virginia Constitution says that it is ONLY the School Boards who can control what happens on school property.  General Assembly, butt out.”

    If the Supreme Court meant it, this statute would be held unconstitutional — provided that someone can be found to oppose it in court.